The Hague, the Netherlands – AWEPA organised a briefing on its capacity building programmes in South Sudan in the Dutch House of Representatives on 27 May 2014. The meeting was chaired by Hon. Marit Maij, Dutch MP and Head of the Dutch AWEPA Section, and had a special focus on the programme funded by the Dutch government for the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and Local Councils of South Sudan.
The Keynote speaker at the meeting was Ms. Kris Debref, AWEPA’s Programme Coordinator for South Sudan. AWEPA’s programmes aim to touch upon the core problems in the country of human insecurity and structural poverty through participatory leadership, good governance, accountability and improved service delivery by effective legislatures in South Sudan. Ms. Debref noted that to close the gap between the parliamentarians and the population, AWEPA facilitates outreach visits for the MPs to the population on certain topics, such as girl child education, peace and reconciliation and protection of natural resources. She emphasised that without AWEPA’s support it would be very difficult for the MPs to reach the communities due to the poor condition of roads, especially during the rainy season. Consultation between MPs and the grass root level increases public input in government policy and legislation. Moreover, the population feels better represented as they are able to address their problems to their representative in the NLA. In addition, public awareness on the role of MPs is increased.
Alongside the intervention with the NLA, AWEPA also works with the local councils in Central and Western Equatorial States, which form the smallest unit of local administration. Ms. Debref explained that AWEPA trains South Sudanese trainers for Councillors in topics related to Local Council work, after which the trainers train the Councillors with the help of training modules. She stated that before the trainings, the Local Councillors did not understand their roles, but today they are holding sessions, deliberating the County’s budget, initiating by laws and plan services at local level.
Ms. Debref noted that among the activities most appreciated by the partners were the trainings for all MPs in peace building and reconciliation, especially for the women MPs to act as champions on this issue. AWEPA brought in the relevant experience of Rwandan MPs for these activities, which was highly appreciated by the South Sudanese MPs.
Ms. Debref expressed her hope that AWEPA, with its programmes, can contribute to the peace and reconciliation process in South Sudan and expand its local council programme to cover more States in South Sudan besides the Central and Western Equatorial States.